MITC 2010: Creating and Distributing Audio/Video Podcasts

Presenter: Joe Dimino

This is a bit unusual because instead of the usual tablet PC that I normally use for liveblogging, I am using a netbook provided by the presenter. This is really my first experience with a netbook. The keyboard is definitely smaller, but not too bad, though I am tending to hit keys I normally wouldn’t (mostly I type “/” when trying to type a period).

We’ll see how it goes.

From what I can tell from the handout, this will be a “hands-on” exercise using Audacity and Windows MovieMaker. However, even though everyone has been provided with a netbook to use for the session, it does require each of us to install Audacity and MovieMaker–the machines have NOT been set up with all the required software. I anticipate this to take some time during the intro part of the session. It’s a 2-hour session, but needless time will undoubtedly be spent getting everyone’s machine ready. Naturally, having worked in IT, my own netbook looks like it is good to go. Except for Windows Live Movie Maker which doesn’t appear to be downloading. Most likely the local wireless network is not going to handle everyone in the session (about 2 dozen people) downloading the Movie Maker software at once. Joe is going to go through the Movie Maker process on his machine.

The sample web site for the session ( has numerous examples of podcasts used at Joe’s school as well as links to Audacity and the LAME encoder used to convert files into MP3.

For videos, Joe uses Flip video cameras (EdTech recently bought one to experiment with). He loves it. Everyone who’s tried ours likes it. They are available in HD and are quite affordable (both standard and HD are available for less than $200).

Joe uses Movie Maker or iMovie to add features to his podcasts such as textual layers and so on. Camtasia, which EdTech often uses, also allows for a number of additional features that can enhance a video podcast.

As I expected, a number of folks are having difficulty installing Audacity on their netbooks. Whenever doing a “hands-on” exercise, it helps to have all of the machines ready to go. I’m glad that when we do our conference in March 2011, we will be able to use a high-speed network with powerful machines in Civil 115–we will also coordinate with “hands-on” presenters to get the machines ready.

Recommended tool — Plantraonics Audio 655 USB headset/microphone, available from Amazon for around $30.

Joe’s web site has a number of links to some downloadable sounds and music. Most is available for free, but some will require coordinating with the IP holder (e.g. the artist Moby allows non-profits to use some of his music for free, but you will still need permission).

A good question from the audience–how do you record a phone conversation for a podcast? Joe has several good answers. One is to use Skype, if possible, because you can easily record the conversation. If you don’t have Skype, then you can use a standard microphone held close to the receiver. Although the quality of the audio will still be pretty poor even for a high-quality phone service (e.g. S&T VoIP is pretty high quality compared to cell phone or standard land line), Audacity does have some tools to tweak the audio files for quality.